‘In October 2015 our first granddaughter was born asleep with only 5 weeks to go’

Following the loss of his first granddaughter, Graham took on the Boston Marathon to raise vital funds to save other parents and grandparents this heartache.

Charity fundraising story, 18/05/2017, by Graham Fletcher

Just over a month on from tackling the Boson Marathon, Graham Flecther talks to Tommy’s about the big day itself, and where his motivation comes from.

Why did you choose to run for Tommy’s?

In October 2015 our first granddaughter was born asleep with only 5 weeks to go. Baby Grace's heart stopped beating in the womb and she was born 2 days later at Manchester Maternity Hospital.

The support that was given to my son and daughter in law, Timothy and Vanessa, was key to helping us all to come to terms with our loss. 

As first time grandparents, we were kept positive by seeing them receive this support in a situation that no one should have to endure.

Why the Boston Marathon?

This is a prestigious marathon in its 121st year; I had an idea I’d like to do it 3 years ago. A key requirement is that a good qualifying time for your age be achieved at a recognised marathon in the preceding 12 months.

I entered Manchester marathon 2016 back in 2015 and ran it 3 hours and 43 minutes which gave me a 7 minute margin to enter Boston.

You're then graded and not guaranteed entry as it depends on the number of other runners in your age group who also enter. Bear in mind I was 60 on the 5th April and the Marathon was Patriots Day 17th April so it became my Birthday celebration trip.

How did it feel to stand there in your Tommy’s jersey at the start line?

I was the only one in a Tommy’s vest so I felt quite proud really. Boston was all for baby Grace.

How did you find the training?

The training for a marathon is tough, time consuming and tiring. I followed a 16 week structured plan with a mix of efforts such as hill reps on a Tuesday; marathon paced runs of around eight miles on a Thursday and stepped up long runs on a Sunday.

It is very disruptive to family life and so I feel privileged to have had the support from my wife Julie with my training that I did. Not to mention all of the work it generates with washing running kit!

How have people around responded to what you’ve done?

I hoped to raise £500 but am now at £750. Friends and family have certainly rewarded my effort and are happy to support Tommy’s.

How did you find the whole experience on the day?

It was the most exciting yet toughest Marathon to date. I have run London five times and ran Manchester last year to qualify. The chance to run was never a given and it was a memorable 60th birthday trip that I shan’t forget.

The route was undulating and the day was very warm at 21 degrees. The support on route was just amazing!

Three memorable points were, Wellesley - the scream of the female students was unbelievable, they held out hand written boards with 'Kiss me it’s my birthday” or “Kiss me I graduate soon” plus loads of other quotes I can’t remember.

Then there is the famous Heartbreak Hill, lined three deep with support in Newton. With two miles to go you see the huge Citgo sign and you pass Fenway Park baseball ground. 

With the finish line ahead, I managed to hug and see my wife in the crowds.

It’s then over the 26-mile mark painted on the road; between here and the finish the crowds are screaming and the silver blankets are being handed out and you are given the most fantastic medal, 121st Marathon Done!

Amazing! Well done Graham, and thank you so much for your support!

Where next?

Are you taking on an event for Tommy’s? Tell us about it here so we can give you the best possible support!

If you’re been inspired by Graham and want to take on your own challenge for Tommy’s, check out all of the different events we have places in.

Enjoy reading stories like Graham? Check out more of our incredible Tommy’s fundraiser’s stories here.

Read more charity fundraising stories

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